In the Kitchen Donna Picard already had experience in operating a tea room when she took the plunge and opened Maison de Manger in Northbridge. Learning to make the crepes and croissants came through years of practice. Her late husband, whose family was originally from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, missed the French foods he had grown up with. “I just had a passion for food and learned to cook for six sons and a husband,” said Picard, who is both owner and chef. The restaurant opened last December.
The Locale The creperie is located in a renovated textile mill in Whitinsville, a village within the town of Northbridge. The interior offers natural light and historical charm, including the original flooring and high ceilings. The renovation undertaken by Picard includes industrial lighting created by her youngest son, using inverted vents, and a large transom window that opens from the kitchen to the dining area. On the afternoon I visited, a lively zydeco was just audible. “The most common thing I hear is people feel comfortable here,” she said.
On the Menu Specialties are hand-written on a vertical chalkboard. The crepes are the stars here, with a broad selection of unusual choices. The counter staff is helpful in guiding you through the dishes. Since opening, Picard said she’s had fun experimenting with the options, and explaining to visitors what a crepe is not. “It’s like a pancake” is the most common misconception. Her crepes have butter, whole milk, eggs, and flour, no leavening. The fillings take it from there. The most popular is the Chicken Pot Pie ($10.95), which as the name implies, is what you would find in that dish if it were tucked into a thin crepe. The same goes for the Cheeseburger Bomb ($10.95). Other options include combinations of gruyere cheese and fig ($12.95), and goat cheese and blueberries ($10.95). For those with a sweeter tooth, dessert crepes include choices of cinnamon sugar, Nutella, and cheesecake. A few lunch salads also are available. I started with the featured soup, a gazpacho ($3) that had hearty chunks of tomato. The ham and cheese crepe ($9.95) followed, a savory blend of three cheeses and black forest ham. The dish was served artfully, with a thin slice of fresh watermelon. Although the mini baguette was not available the afternoon I stopped by, my second choice was probably better. The plain croissant served with the house honey butter ($3) was the best I’ve had. For drinks, the options include the Waltham-based Spindrift bottled fruit sodas. The restaurant has ample, free parking beside the mill. It is wheelchair accessible.
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a Saturday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that features an expanded menu and live music from local artists.
Maison de Manger, 670 Linwood Ave., Whitinsville, MA 508-372-9797, www.facebook.com/maisondemanger670/
Mary MacDonald can be reached at email@example.com.